Modern Interior Trim Details Revealed…
Modern interior trim details were in several images in our most recent post. The details were built around reveals used as transitions from color to color or material to material. For example, at PictureTel, we used a ¼” Pittcon reveal to transition from one color of Polymix to another. The reveal also served to break up long monolithic surfaces and planes.
At Keyport, we used polished copper reveals between stone panels and stretched fabric panels.
As our business transitioned from corporate interior design to residential interior design, Sally and I did two small show houses hosted by the Wenham Museum. Each featured modern interior trim details using painted wood paneling. We figured, everyone else did traditional work. We’d corner the market on contemporary/modern design.
Always loved the Calderesque mobile over the dining table and the juxtaposition of the 17th century French mantel against the rigid checkerboard grid of the paneling.
In hindsight, our modern show house vignettes, with their clean uncluttered style, were a good 5 – 8 years ahead of their time, especially on Boston’s North Shore. C’est la vie…
MODERN INTERIOR TRIM DETAILS: SETTING THE STAGE
As my regular readers know, Sally and I love our classically inspired interiors. None the less, I still harbor questions. Like, “What if???”
So I decided to play around a bit with an old friend – reveals and modern interior trim details. In this first elevation I have arbitrarily created three different modern looks. The reveals around doors and windows, at the ceiling and floor add relief and character that is so often lacking in today’s modern/contemporary architecture and interiors.
In the elevations below, the left hand door ands window elevations below are pure minimalism. No expressed trim. Reveals at ceiling and floor creating shadowlines. The middle elevations are the equivalent of flush inset cabinet doors. Note how the base and door jamb details can be manipulated. In the right elevations, door and window are picture framed, with trim standing proud of the wall. This could be anywhere from 3/4” to maybe 2”. The base is still flush with the wall.
PICTURE FRAME DETAILS: THE BASICS
For illustration purposes, the picture frame door and window held great appeal. Its not quite minimal. With trim standing proud of the wall, I immediately see/feel texture, light and shadow. I made the following assumptions.
- Door and window trim: 1 ½” wide. Standing 1 1/2” proud of the wall.
- Reveal: 1/4” wide.
- Based classical proportions, I know there would be a break in the cornice at about 2” below the ceiling and the base would be about 4” high.
- 30” x 84” door. 36” wide look too squatty…
- Window sill at 24” off the floor. I Could have gone as low as 21” off the floor, but visually the windows sat too low.
In the first elevation below, you see the basic elevation – a door and two windows.
In the second elevation, I introduce a chair rail. As in many older homes, the chair rail runs under the window sill as a trim board. (I could have set the chair rail to align with the window sill, making it proud of the wall. In that case, I’d pull the crown and base forward too. It’s all what you choose to emphasize. I chose to emphasize the holes in the wall, as opposed to emphasizing the horizontal banding in the elevation.)
REVEALS GONE WILD
In this third image, I being adding detail to see if I can echo traditional wainscot and paneling detail/proportions. The first elevation below shows a “panelinzed” wainscot below the chair rail. The second elevation adds reveals going to the underside of the “crown moulding”. Frankly, I’m feeling a little ambivalent about these two elevations.
I wonder… What if there was a continuous horizontal reveal above the door and windows, as in the first elevation below? Feels much better. If I add the vertical reveals back in, the elevation holds together, but it’s beginning to feel like a grid.
As I look more closely at the first elevation in the above image, I recall the historic Cotting Smith House in Salem, for which I wrote a blog post titled “If A House Could Talk” and an idea begins to take shape in my head.
CLASSICAL PROPORTIONS REVEALED
Perhaps with some tweaking, I could achieve a similar effect using the picture frame details? No vertical reveals. Taller doors and windows. Adjust the crown using the lighter scaled proportions I referenced in this post. I break the floor to ceiling height into 8 equal parts described in that post, with the uppermost part being the entablature of 13 ½”.
Out comes the trace. Et Voila!
MODERN TRIM DETAILS RESOURCE/REFERENCE GUIDE
My two favorite resources for creating modern interior trim details are Pittcon Industries.
And Frye Reglet.
The following sketches are schematic vertical wall sections of the details used in the post. Note the second layer of sheetrock needed to be do the reveals. (If you are doing reveals at ceiling and floor only, you may not need the second layer of sheetrock.)
As I consider all the elevations and details I have drawn, I come to the following conclusions.
- The horizontal reveals are pleasing to the eye.
- Adding vertical reveals tends to break up the overall elevation. It becomes a grid.
- Reveals can be used to emphasize openings, such as doors and windows.
- Used properly, reveals can suggest and reinforce classical proportions. (But they have their limits.)
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